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What Does the Future Hold?

Fortune teller with crystal ball
(Image credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images)

At last month’s AV³ virtual event, we spent most of the day discussing the future of pro AV. What will the next-gen classroom look like? How will digital signage evolve? What does the future hold for streaming?

While our presenters and panelists had plenty of answers, the event left me with even more questions. Particularly this one: Why do we even try to predict the future when it is so darn unpredictable?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s always interesting to hear people’s viewpoints and why they think things will turn out a certain way. It’s even more interesting to go back and listen to older predictions and see how wrong (and occasionally right) people were. But we’re not spot on, so why bother?

It turns out there’s a lot of psychology involved in predicting the future. In 1980, Neil Weinstein, a psychologist at Rutgers University, published a paper titled “Unrealistic Optimism About Future Life Events.” His evidence supported this theory: “People believe that negative events are less likely to happen to them than to others, and they believe that positive events are more likely to happen to them than to others.” Essentially, we generally believe that we are the exception and not the rule.

These beliefs spill over into our work lives. For example, a Pew Research study found that 65 percent of Americans in 2015 believed that robots “definitely” or “probably” would be doing much of the work currently done by humans in the next 50 years. At the same time, 80 percent of those surveyed believed that their own jobs or industries would remain largely unchanged and would exist in their current forms 50 years later.

What will the field look like in 50 years? Or even in five years? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that change is inevitable, and I predict that we won’t stop trying to predict the future!

P.S. If you missed AV³ and want to hear predictions from AV pros like Bren Walker, Jeremy Caldera, Peter Lawrence, Rony Sebok, and more, you can still catch it on demand until July 15 (and earn 4.75 AVIXA RUs!). Visit av3event.com to learn more.

Click here to read more stories from the July 2021 issue of SCN.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.